‘Tis the season for flicks, fantasy Super Bowl

col-BuddhaSo, as you’ve likely picked up on throughout the season, I’m as into popular culture as I am fantasy football. And, believe me, that’s a lot.

As such, I get stoked out of my mind this time of year. No, not because of Christmas. Not at all, in fact. I’m excited about two things: fantasy Super Bowl week and the holiday movie season.

I know that you and I at least share in our enthusiasm for the fantasy football part, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. The movies, however, will carry on well after this 2013 NFL season is done and dusted.

I’ll admit that I can come off as a bit of a movie snob sometimes. I usually enjoy most, not all, of the movies nominated annually for Oscars. But just because I can’t wait to grab a tub of fresh buttered popcorn and sit down to films like American Hustle, Her and The Wolf of Wall Street, that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of enjoying a silly romp with Ron Burgundy. Because I will. No matter how bad the reviews for Anchorman 2 turn out to be.

Perhaps the one movie I’m most highly anticipating this weekend is Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s apparently another masterpiece from the Coen Brothers and it revolves around a 1960’s folk singer. With the buzz surrounding this one — and since the Coens have never let me down — it’s my preseason number one Oscar favorite.

Inside Llewyn Davis also features a song that has my complete and total attention at this moment. It’s the kind of song that moves you in ways you can’t even necessarily explain. It’s an example of why art is so beautiful. The song is appropriately titled Fare Thee Well, since this is my final piece this year. I recommend that you at least check it out, even if you opt to hold off on seeing the movie.

Before I get to this week’s starts, I want to sincerely thank you all for reading my columns this season and I just hope that — despite the ups and downs — I’ve been able to help provide you with enough ammunition to keep you ahead of the rest of your league on the waiver and in the standings. I certainly hope to be back for more in 2014. Best of luck, merry Christmas and have a safe, happy New Year.

Now for my starts:

  • Kirk Cousins – My real life distant cousin checks into my QB rankings this week at number ten. But there’s no nepotism involved here. Cousins debuted with a 381 yard, three touchdown performance in Week 15 at Atlanta and now he comes home to face the Cowboys. The same Cowboys who just surrendered four TD passes to Matt Flynn. The same Cowboys who have allowed four other quarterbacks to throw for four touchdowns in a game this season, and in two consecutive, no less. The same Cowboys who have given up — by far — the most fantasy points to the QB position this year. So the matchup is as tasty as it gets. So tasty that I’d play Cousins ahead of his peers Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith and Ryan Tannehill. Calculated risks can swing title games and this one’s as calculated as they come.
  • Ryan Mathews – Mathews has broken through in 2013. Drafted as a RB3 or worse in most leagues, Mathews has solidified himself as possibly the most reliable RB2 on the board. This week, he even rates as a lead dog. The kind of running back you hitch your sled to and outrace the competition. His 14 points per game average over the last six weeks has combined in many of your respective backfields with guys like Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy to do just that. There’s no reason to see Mathews falling off the cliff this weekend when the Raiders pay the Chargers a visit. Plug him in and continue reaping the benefits. Giovani Bernard, Jordan Todman and Chris Ivory are also guys I’m pretty high on this championship week as RB2/flex plays. I like them all ahead of players like Andre Brown, Steven Jackson, Pierre Thomas and the surging Trent Richardson.
  • Michael Crabtree – This is the game you have had circled from the moment you added Crabtree. The Falcons. At home. On Monday Night Football. The last game in Candlestick history. Crabbie does love him some spotlight. Remember his Week 15 outburst versus the Patriots in 2012? Seven catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday Night Football. It fits the pattern. I love Crabtree this week and I haven’t even blinked on this call. I’m playing him over other recently resurgent receivers like Mike Wallace, Marques Colston and Greg Jennings. Much like the Cousins play, it’s a calculated risk that I can live with. Other WR starts I like are Julian Edelman, Kendall Wright and — in deep leagues and 3WR leagues — Andre Caldwell.
  • Zach Miller – I’ll give you one guess who Miller is playing. Yep. You got it. Those same Cardinals who get a weekly shout-out in this spot. The numbers are too prominent to ignore. Honestly, if not for the presense of touchdown vulturing Luke Willson — no relation to Russell or Owen — Miller would be an even more resounding start in your Super Bowl. As it is, he’s a Top 10 TE that you can plug and play and probably get 10 points from. So do it. Ahead of Jordan Cameron, Dennis Pitta and Heath Miller.
  • Dolphins D/ST – Miami faces a Bills team minus star QB of the future E.J. Manuel. Miami is still playing for a playoff spot in that crazy AFC Wild Card race. Miami gets after the passer. The Dolphins should be able to record a few sacks and force backup quarterback Thad Lewis into some turnovers. Buffalo has allowed double figures to opposing D/ST units in five games already this season and rank 25th worst with 8.8 ppg allowed. With superior defenses like the Panthers and Cardinals facing nigh on impossible matchups, the Dolphins rank as my 4th best defensive play this week.

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